Marlin leads group aimed at preserving Fairgrounds racing

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 5:40pm
Staff reports

Sterling Marlin officially has taken up the cause of preserving racing at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner and several other members of the local racing community announced Wednesday the formation of Tennessee Racing Association, LLC, “with the single mission of procuring the rights to continue the history of automobile racing at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.”

“The history of the Nashville track is known nearly around the world,” Marlin said in a release announcing the partnership. “And we’re committed to seeing that continue in a positive way.”

Marlin was a three-time track champion at the Fairgrounds who later competed — and won — at stock car racing’s highest level.

Chad Chaffin, Neil Chaffin, Mike Alexander and Ricky Bolden — all of whom won multiple track championships at the venue — have joined Marlin in this endeavor as have Wayne Day, Bill Freeman, Mark Miles, Donald Mingus, Donnie Redd and Johnny Turner.

Everyone in the partnership has been involved in the local racing scene in some way, and combined, they boast more than 250 years of racing experience and more than regional titles.

“We want to bring the sport to another generation, the way it was given to us,” Chad Chaffin said. “We believe the track should be a benefit to the Tennessee State Fair Board and the surrounding community.  And we believe we have the best organization to accomplish the three tasks of continuing the sport, being good neighbors to the community and providing a positive revenue stream for the Fair Board.”

11 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 11/23/11 at 7:40

Thank you Sterling for standing up for what is right. We want to keep and save the Fairgrounds.

By: DreamBig on 11/23/11 at 7:40

I'm surprised that Sterling would risk his life driving on the Fairgrounds Speedway. This track is sub-standard and far from a NASCAR approved facility. The 'catch fences' would never stop a car, the guard rails are non-impact absorbing and the safety crews are poorly equiped to deal with an emergency.

Sterling can usually win at this track because he has the best equipment and the competition is basically amateur drivers who will likely never make it to the next level.

The next generation won't be interested - they have moved on and won't be back.

By: Shane Smiley on 11/23/11 at 8:49


I'm not trying to start an argument but, Nearly everything you posted is false.
The track is not sub standard. our retaining walls, guard rails, and catch fence are all in good order.
A guard rail, by design, is impact absorbing.
Short tracks around the world use this technology.
We have not seen a critical injury or fatality since April of 1972.
Safety and technology have progressed greatly since the sad loss of Metro Police Officer, Bob Hunley.
The track was in the old 36 degree configuration at that time and the wreck was not attributed to failure of walls or fencing.

As for being NASCAR approved facility, First you have to understand the scope of Nascar and the umbrella this name covers.
The Nascar Weekly Racing Series sponsored by Whelen.
Racing at a local level. A place to get started, hone your skills, and get ready for the next step.
From there, you move on to a touring division. Usually the cream of your local racers as they work towards the goal of making it to the Big Show.
Nascar has over 20 divisions of competition. The Fairgrounds Speedway is approved for most of these divisions.

Our safety crews are well equipped and have many years of experience. Many have spent time working National touring division events at tracks like the Nashville Super Speedway, Kentucky, Bristol, Memphis, St. Louis, and others.

If you look at the records and the driver roster, You will see that Sterling wins, and gets beat. You will find many drivers and crew members who also run at the national level compete at the Historic fairgrounds Speedway. Mixed in, you will also find the names of some young drivers who have a real shot at the Elite divisions of racing. The next generation is interested and shows great promise in keeping the tradition alive and well.

Now, DreamBig, I said "Nearly" everything you said was false.
You got one thing right. sort of.
There are racers in many divisions who do not have the best equipment or the skills/opportunities to move on to the next level. This is true with any sport. It doesn't mean they can't enjoy themselves, share their dreams and passions with their family and friends, or use racing to spend time with and teach their kids a skill set.
What is wrong with being an amateur race car driver? If you ask them, they will tell you they are having the times of their lives and enjoying every minute they have strapped inside their racing machines.
Are you going to put down amateur hockey, football, baseball, darts, bowling, basketball, fencing, running, volleyball, or any number of other sports because everyone will not go on to the next level?

I hope one day, you get to experience the thrill of strapping into a race car, firing the motor, and taking a few laps at your speed around the track. I believe your point of view would change.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Now is not a time to bicker, or argue.
It is a time to be thankful for the good in our lives.
Enjoy your family and friends.
Please say a special prayer for those who are away from loved ones, those with no one to share this day, and those serving us proudly to protect our freedoms.
May God Bless us all.

By: JayBee56 on 11/23/11 at 9:26

Great that Mr. Marlin is involved in this. I was in NW Florida this past week and saw a thriving fairgrounds. It can happen here if our Metro leaders will stop fighting the citizen effort to keep and improve the historic Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

By: lookfor125 on 11/23/11 at 9:30

Dream Big: I don't know why, Shane Smiley felt the need to repond to in such a exhaustive manner ,but he did,and it was excellent .I mean,your arguements ,or let's say the propaganda that's now being espoused by the anti- happiness faction inside this OLD debate(I meant, anti- Fairgrounds) ,are now reaching new levels of embarassement.If you don't believe me,just keep your words up for the world to see,.They belong in a museum on Nashville's history ,as they will serve as direct testimony, to one group's unwillingness to tell the truth..In other words,or like I said..."it's getting embarassing"~

By: CrimesDown on 11/24/11 at 12:54

Shane Smiley said it better than I could. There is one thing you failed to mention though. You can take some of the best racers in the world, have them come to Nashville with their own late models and race our local "amateurs". 99% of the time the world's best will get their tailpipe handed to them racing against our locals. How many other elites in other sports will get their arse handed to them by a bunch of local so-called amateurs?

By: whitetrash on 11/24/11 at 1:38

As long as they don't have truck races I might go. I can't stand watching Racer 84 race. I bet he thinks he is such a good driver racing against what 3 or 4 trucks? Everyone saw what happened this year when he go behind the wheel of a stockcar. He got his but whipped! Racer 84 is sponsored by one of the Subways out in Bellevue be sure to not eat there!

By: DreamBig on 11/24/11 at 11:57

Shane - I havebeen around racing and have seen the track and response teams. Sorry, it's substandard compared to what I've seen at other tracks. I know racing, have been at this track a lot and it is not in the same class as the current group of tracks that attract big crowds and top level drivers.

You will never get a group of A level racers to show up at this track - it's too risky.

Lookfor 125 - the embarrassment is that this track can only attract a few hundred fans. It's been poorly attended for 3 years and that won't change. Two of the last 3 track lessors/promoters didn't fulfill their financial obligations to the city and have left a carpet bagging image of the race promoters - equally embarrassing.

CrimesDown - we'll never know how the elites would do at the Fairgrounds because it will never happen - your fantasy of the underfunded going nowhere racers beating the elites will never happen. Although, didn't Kyle Busch show up a few years ago and win at the Fairgrounds (not sure about this so I'm asking)

Anyway, I enjoy the dialogue and emotion over this issue. Let's continue . . .

By: Shane Smiley on 11/25/11 at 1:35

DreamBig - I appreciate your civility in the conversation.
You say you have been around racing. Would you classify yourself as a fan?
Myself? I have been involved in racing all of my life. Professionally involved in the sport for over 20 years, I have visited nearly every race track in 49 States and Canada. From dirt, paved, oval, road course, or drag strip, I've seen them all.
With this experience, I can assure you, our facility is safe. Safe for fans, workers, and competitors alike.

You say our track is substandard compared to what you have seen at other tracks.
That we are not in the same class as other tracks with better attendance and bigger names.

What makes the track sub standard? What do they have that we don't?
Anyone looking from a business point of view must ask these questions.
The others may have newer, improved infrastructure, newer electronics, and updated amenities. You would be correct.
They also have the ability to invest in the property with the chance of recovering their capitol improvement expenditures.
It's called a long term lease. An option not currently available thru our Board of Fair Commissioners.
Allow a long term lease to the group of individuals listed above and you will see the transformation of the property into a showcase for auto sports like you speak of above.
Nashville has many friends in the entertainment industry. A long term lease would allow the upgrades and promotions necessary to rejoin the elite tracks. Nashville was, at one time, the crown jewel of short tracks. Nashville experienced its first spotlight in the national sporting arena at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Long before football or hockey, the sports world looked here because of the world class racing provided. Those days do not have to be over.

The track promoters failing to meet their obligation is indeed an embarrassment.
I do not believe the Tennessee Racing Association will have any issue guaranteeing their financial obligation to the city.

And to answer your question concerning Kyle Busch, yes, he did compete a while back. As well as Todd Bodine, and Randy LaJoie. I'm not sure if Kyle won, I was in Indy. Todd tested fast but, his event rained out and Randy ran very well but, did not win.
I, like you, enjoy a civil discussion. Please continue...

By: Shane Smiley on 11/25/11 at 2:24

DreamBig - I can't help it. But, I keep laughing at a comment you posted. Don't get mad.

"You will never get a group of A level racers to show up at this track - it's too risky."

How absurd.You make it sound as if anyone who dares drive our track is fending off certain death at every corner. LOL.....
Too risky"? LOL..... not even close. You are still safer turning laps at the track than you are traveling the roads of middle Tennessee.
2011 Nascar Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart ran 30 events in a winged sprint car this year.
I believe he flipped on more than one occasion. Anyone with any racing knowledge knows, A sprint car is the most dangerous form of racing today. They are much safer than when I was introduced to them in 1966 but, still a calculated risk any time you climb in.
I'm not trying to be rude or disrespectful. I simply find such empty, abstract statements concerning what a race car driver will and will not see as an unnecessary risk laughable and entertaining fiction. After all, The A list driver listed above races here all the time.

Keep trying, I admire your tenacity and at this point, you have proven entertaining.

By: CrimesDown on 11/25/11 at 3:25

DreamBig you are wrong. The locals have beat the best here for many many years. The Fairgrounds has a nice track that can be better when we get the local politics out of it. Name the local tracks that you speak of that have a nicer track than we do. If you find one, check and see if they were allowed to run more than 3-5 races a year.